Just like last year, the Birds have three finalists for the Gold Glove award at their respective positions. Last season, it was Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, and Adam Jones that were the finalists, with Wieters and Markakis taking home their first such honors. Jones won the award in 2009, becoming the first Oriole since Mike Mussina in 1999.
Now it looks like the O’s are likely to have at least one Gold Glove winner for the third time in four years.
Wieters and Jones are again finalists, and joining them this time is shortstop J.J. Hardy.
It would be Hardy’s first Gold Glove, and the feeling here is that he absolutely deserves it. I agree fully with Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun, who writes:
Also, it’s just one reporter’s opinion, but I believe Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy will win his first career Gold Glove. Hardy, who made just six errors in 158 games, doesn’t have the flash that often gets recognized at the position, but he’s one of the most consistent fielders in the game. After Hardy led AL shortstops in fielding percentage (.990) last year, it’s time that his glove gets noticed.
Although Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan just won the Fielding Bible award for shortstop, Hardy led AL shortstops in fielding percentage (.992), assists (529), putouts (244), total zone runs (21) and range factor per game (4.89).
Ryan wasn’t in the top five in any of those categories, but he was named the top defender in all of baseball in the Fielding Bible awards, which are based intensely on sabermetrics. Ryan led major league shortstops with 27 runs saved, while Hardy had 18 and third finalist Elvis Andrus of Texas had eight. Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, last year’s winner, isn’t a finalist this season.
While the Gold Glove is based on fielding, most players have recorded more offensive output than Ryan, who hit just .194 in 2012.
While Encina believes that Wieters will also win, I don’t feel as strongly that he is deserving. Wieters had 10 errors this year, five more than last year and more than any American League catcher. As Encina points out, he threw out 38.6 percent of potential base runners, which is more than any of the other finalists, but come on…how can the guy with the most errors win the Gold Glove award?
Jones is the long shot of the group, with the Angels Mike Trout likely to win the award for center fielders (the Gold Glove is now given by position in the outfield, as opposed to given to the best three overall outfielders).
The winners will be announced tonight at 9:30 on ESPN2.